COACH Melanie Balcomb: Well, I was really proud of our effort. I thought we came out really strong, and they had been starting games unbelievably. I think we did a great job being ready to play. Defensively I couldn't ask for a better effort. Offensively, you know, we really struggled. They really picked up their defense and their denial and took things away from our offense. I think that really we had a lot of opportunities that we didn't take advantage of, and eventually they started offensive rebounding, which they do so well. But really, I think we've played them harder each time we've played them this year, and like I said, I'm proud of how much we've improved as a team.
Q. As Melanie mentioned, getting better each time, is that a little tough when you've had the losses to come back and try and find the improvement, and obviously you started much better tonight? Do you think you're getting there? And how much do you think you've improved over these games?
Christina Wirth: I definitely don't think it's hard to come back. I think that every time we play them we're excited about the opportunity that we have, and I think tonight we came out fired up. Like you said, when we played them at home they came out and jumped on us early so tonight we had a focus on really attacking them, you know and just going for it. We had nothing to lose. They're a higher seed, higher ranking if that means anything, so we just came out. Yeah, we're getting better all year long, so any time we have an opportunity like this to test us, we're excited about it.
Q. Tina, can you talk about the struggles you've had in the last two games offensively? Are they putting some special defenses on you, or what's going on there?
Christina Wirth: I mean, I think teams know that I'm a shooter so I think that they're starting to do a better job than early in the season. I had wide open looks pretty much every game, and now I don't get those wide open looks as much. I did get those looks, so did Merideth Marsh and our other shooters, we just didn't knock them down. I thought gen did awesome this entire tournament. We just need to find a way to hit those shots. Yeah, they had good defensive pressures, but shooters have to keep shooting, and that's what we're going to do.
Q. You had 15 rebounds yesterday, nine rebounds today. What's your secret?
Jennifer Risper: I don't know. I just want to get it. We do a lot of drills in practice where we're fighting hard and just competing a lot, so I think it's just carrying over into the game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, players. For Coach?
Q. Can you talk about the tempo of the game, especially in the second half?
Q. It seemed like there were a lot of long possessions on both ends of the court, and was that by design or was that because of the defense of both of the teams?
COACH Melanie Balcomb: Well, the score was 26 to 20 in the second half, so I think both teams were playing very hard defence. We've played each other three times. We know each other very well. It's like an NCAA game. Both teams are very prepared, they're both very successful, and you're going to see great defensive efforts and people being taken away from things. And it's going to be hard to get shots, so you're not going to be able to make one pass and score. It's not going to be easy. So that slowed the tempo down more. Yes, obviously they're very, very good in transition, and that was one of our goals was to slow them down and to stop them we held them to 26 points in the second half, and this is a team that scores 80 and 90 a night, so I think that was definitely a big part of our game plan and was successful.
Q. You talked last time you guys played about the height differential, the speed and the athleticism. Does it come down to that again tonight?
COACH Melanie Balcomb: Personally I don't think it did. I think they hit shots and we didn't. Who would have thought we'd shoot 2 for 17 from three and had open looks from especially Tina Wirth and Merideth Marsh who are two of the best three point shooters in the country, that they generally make. They shot the ball really well from three, especially in the first half. We did a better job getting out on their shooters in the second half. I don't think it's so much height and athleticism, but they do have one of the best players in the country, and that changes your team defensively. Candace Parker changes a game. You've got to play her a certain way and try to take away her without giving too much to everybody else. So that makes it even more difficult. But the fact that we held them to 63 points, I don't think that happens to them a lot. I think that that's something that's going to give us an opportunity to make a run in the NCAAs, and in the postseason that's where we want to be defensively. Offensively we didn't make the shots. We had them but we did not make them.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening comment?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, obviously second half I thought our defense really stepped up for us. We went with a little bigger, more athletic lineup, which I thought helped us run our five defense, basically our switching, man to man. That to me was a big difference. And opened up the game obviously with too many turnovers, just a little bit too careless and maybe over anxious offensively. But I think that when you get to the free throw line, shoot well from the line, and obviously Candace did a good job for us, and also just working hard for the basketball. I thought Nicky Anosike had a tremendous defensive game. Her presence made a big difference in what Vanderbilt was able to see and able to do, so really pleased with our seniors and their play.
Q. Nicky, the regular season loss to LSU, could you just kind of what did the team come away with from that game? What did you learn in that game?
NICKY ANOSIKE: I think the main lesson that we learned from that game is that even though you're up by a lot, you've still got to keep fighting and pushing and you should never let up, and the effort still has to be there.
Q. Candace, can you talk a little bit about the defense in this game? You guys have played excellent defense in this tournament, how important is that for you guys right now?
CANDACE PARKER: I think we really picked up our defense, especially in the second half and towards the end of the first half. Like Coach said, we had a big lineup in there and we were able to just play to our strengths. We had a lot of defense translate into offense and transition and things like that. So I think we really did a great job of just playing defense and playing together.
Q. Nicky, you guys had to play Vanderbilt for a third time. How difficult is that to beat a team three times in one season?
NICKY ANOSIKE: I think what makes it so hard is that they know our tendencies and we know their tendencies, but I guess the team that plays the best defense and rebounds the hardest is the team that's going to come out with the win. We knew that going in, and we heard all the stories about how they've never lost in this building, but we just stayed strong, I guess.
Q. Candace, can you just also talk about the match up tomorrow against LSU, what you all will take from the last game going into tomorrow?
CANDACE PARKER: Well, I mean, they beat us on our home floor, and they won the SEC championship outright, so obviously we have incentive going in. But what it's going to come down to is defense and rebounding and playing a 40 minute game. I think we're a completely different team than we were when we played them, and I think we're going to play with energy and play for 40 minutes.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, thank you. For Coach?
Q. Starting out Vandy went into that 1 3 1 defense and you didn't have a lot of success. What did you do to change that?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I just thought we were standing on offense, so we just went into some different offensive sets to attack them better and even went with a triangle, a high post and two low post players. I think when you're not shooting the ball very well, you can become stagnant, and I thought they were early, but then we picked our pace up. We had to rely a lot we only shot 22 percent in the second half, and I've always believed you're going to have some of those nights, not that you didn't have good shot selection, but obviously you just didn't make shots. We experienced that in both halves. I just really felt like that we stepped up at halftime we talked at halftime a lot about having to be a better defensive team because we know Vanderbilt, we run a lot of great action. But I thought the key for us was that we just got the ball moving a little bit quicker and then we got on the glass. We got on the glass, and that really helped us, particularly in the second half. We weren't out on the boards. Candace had one defensive at halftime, Nicky was the only one that seemed committed to rebounding, and when you're not making shots you've got to get on the glass.
Q. Candace said they're a completely different team than when you played LSU. What's different about the team now? It wasn't that long ago.
COACH SUMMITT: I think that game was a definite wake up call. I think that they realized that they had just been playing in spurts. I mean, you think of the number of times we've gotten off to a huge lead, only to see it dwindle away and then us have to fight to the bitter end and the last possession to win a game. I think that that was a costly one for them. They knew they probably had lost the SEC regular season title, and they really had no one to blame but themselves. That was probably when we had our best player meeting and coaches player meeting. I think that's when they took ownership. I told them we had gotten away with being a team that played in spurts and playing the scoreboard instead of playing the game with great passion for 40 minutes. I said, if you're going to be a championship caliber team you've got to do it. I've said a number of times, it is difficult to motivate a team coming off of a championship with the exception of the '98 team. They were different.
Q. Talk about the difference in the three point shooting. They were 2 for 17 and you were 6 for 19.
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think Vanderbilt has been very committed to the three ball, and I think we did a better job of extending our defense. I think our switching man really helped us because when they set the ball screens in the first half, you know, we were trapping the wing, and running what we call our Velcro in the middle of the floor with a hedge and going under. But I thought in the second half we were more aggressive and we were switching and closing out on the basketball a little bit better. So I think the shots were more contested than anything.
Q. Can you talk about the tempo was upbeat again tonight, and later on between the first at the end of the first half. Is that what you're going to need to have versus LSU tomorrow night?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think we I think our team is best when we play up tempo. We're looking to score in early offense without having to always think setup. This team, I think they really thrive on that, as well, and that's where our defense has to generate our primary opportunities. We've done a pretty good job of that. And also just getting our guards to get to the paint in transition. Candace has done a great job in this tournament of running to the rim. So that puts a lot of pressure on the defense and also opens up the inside out options, as well. But I think everyone that knows our team knows that we want to play up tempo. We want to run at you but not necessarily with you.